The Centre for Cultural Value wants cultural policy and practice to be based on evidence of what works and what needs to change. Over the next five years, the Centre will develop a community of research, policy and practice that shares a better understanding of the differences that arts, culture, heritage and screen/digital engagement make to people’s lives and to society.
We recognise that there are diverse perspectives about culture and cultural values. Our starting point is that everyone values culture of one kind or another, even if they don’t always have equal opportunities to take part in the cultural activities they value the most.
We will work alongside cultural practitioners and organisations, academics, funders and policymakers to explore the timeliest questions of cultural value and what kinds of arts, cultural heritage and screen-based activities create value for whom, how and why, and in which particular conditions and contexts.
Our work will be participatory and collaborative. Working with a range of partners, we will:
The Centre will remain responsive to emerging issues and ideas, but will focus on the following core themes:
Based at the University of Leeds, the Centre’s core partners are The Audience Agency, University of Liverpool, University of Sheffield, University of York and Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh.
Our affiliate partners include: Aesop, Arts Marketing Association, Arts Fundraising & Philanthropy, Association of British Orchestras, BBC, British Film Institute, British Library, Cardiff University, Chief Cultural & Leisure Officers Association, Contemporary Visual Arts Network, Coventry 2021, Creative & Cultural Skills, Cultural Learning Alliance, Culture Counts, Culture Forum North, Culture Health & Wellbeing Alliance, Eden Court Theatre, Galway 2020 & NUI Galway, Imperial War Museum, Leeds 2023, Leeds City Council (Culture & Sport), Museums Association, National Theatre, National Theatre Scotland, OneDance UK, Opera North / DARE, Queens University Belfast, Science Museum Group,Scottish Contemporary Art Network, Thrive, University College London, University of Bristol, University of Warwick, University of Highlands & Islands (Inverness).
In 2012 the Arts and Humanities Research Council launched the Cultural Value Project, led by Professor Geoffrey Crossick. The project took a fresh look at the subject of cultural value. It explored the question of why the arts and culture matter, and how we capture the effects that they have. Some 70 original pieces of work collectively make up the Cultural Value Project – a mixture of new research, critical reviews of the literature and specialist workshops. This work has probed, challenged and advanced our thinking about how better to understand and capture the value of culture.
The project and its subsequent report, Understanding the Value of Arts & Culture by GeoffreyCrossick and Patrycja Kaszynska, opened up a fresh approach to thinking about the value of culture. It highlighted the imperative to reposition first-hand, individual experience of arts and culture at the heart of enquiry into cultural value.
So, when we evaluate the work of the cultural sector perhaps we should not be concentrating on economic impact but rather the capacity for the individual to be economically innovative and creative. Perhaps not concentrating on urban regeneration driven by large new cultural buildings but rather the way small-scale arts assets and activities might help communities and neighbourhoods. And for health, not just concentrating on clinical arts therapies but also the link between arts engagement and supporting recovery from physical and mental illness. Something that has now been adopted by many organisations within the sector.
For all these reasons, thinking about cultural value needs to give far more attention to the way people experience their engagement with arts and culture, to be grounded in what it means to produce or consume arts and culture.
A second Cultural Value report in 2018, by Patrycja Kaszynska, identified that one of the biggest and most pressing challenges in understanding cultural value is creating communities of interest and practice across sectors. As a result, the report recommended that a new entity - a collaborative Centre for Cultural Value – was set up.